SYNONYMS OR RELATED TERMS: Erh-li-kang CATEGORY: culture DEFINITION: A stage of the early Bronze Age in North China seen in two strata at Zhengzhou Erligang, classified archaeologically as Middle Shang. The phase preceded the Anyangperiod (c 1300-1030 BC) and radiocarbon dates have been c 1600-1550 bc. The massive rammed-earth fortification, 118 feet wide at its base and enclosing an area of 1.2 square miles, would have taken 10,000 men more than 12 years to build. Also found were ritual bronzes, including four monumental tetrapods, palace foundations; workshops for bronzecasting, pot making, and bone working; burials; and two inscribed fragments of oracle bones. The Erligang phase may correspond to the widest sway of the Shang empire and is known for its highly developed bronze-castingindustry. Some Chinese archaeologists call the phase Early Shang.
SYNONYMS OR RELATED TERMS: An-yang, Yinxu CATEGORY: site DEFINITION: A city in the Honan province of China that was the last capital of the Shang (Yin) Dynasty, occupied in the 12th and 11th centuries BC. It was founded c 14 BC and overthrown by the Chou in 1027 BC and was the seat of 12 kings who ruled for 273 years, a time referred to as the historical Anyangperiod. Anyang is one of the most extensively excavated sites, beginning in 1928. The buildings had rammed earth floors and many sacrifices of men and animals and chariot burials were found under them. Deep storage pits held oracle bones with inscriptions in an archaicform of Chinese, but the most important finds came from the cemeteries, which included royal tombs. At least as early as the Songdynasty (960--1279), Anyang was known as a source of bronzeritual vessels. Very large cruciform shaft tombs were found near the village of Houjiazhuang. There were eight large tombs in the western part of the Xibeigangcemetery and five more in the east. Excavation has shown that rows of satellite burials in the eastern section were not laid down at the time of the royal entombments but instead were later sacrifices offered to the tombs' occupants; these burials correspond with the oracle texts descriptions of victims sacrificed, sometimes by the hundreds, to the reigning king's ancestors. The only intact royal tomb yet discovered is that of Fu Hao, which is not in the Xibeigangcemetery but across the river at Xiatoun. Later excavations have established that Anyang was heir to the flourishing civilization of the Erligang Phase.
SYNONYMS OR RELATED TERMS: Kao-ch'eng CATEGORY: site DEFINITION: Area in southern Hebei province, China, with widely scattered Shang remains. At Taixicun, the main occupation postdates the Erligang Phase and has one radiocarbon date of c 1500 BC. The site is dominated by three large rectangular Hangtu platforms and a large house foundation with sacrificial burials. Other graves yielded bronzeritual vessels, fragments of lacquer, and a bronze ax with a blade of meteoritic iron. Evidence suggests that it may be the location of a Shangcapital occupied after Zhengzhou but before Anyang.
CATEGORY: site DEFINITION: A town in Hui Xian, Hunan province, China, where many burials of the Shang and Eastern Chou periods have been excavated. The Shang burials, some containing bronzeritual vessels, belong to the Erligang Phase. Eastern Chou finds date from the 7th-2nd centuries BC, and include one of the largest of Chinese chariot burials -- a single pit containing 19 chariots.
SYNONYMS OR RELATED TERMS: Yin; Shang civilization CATEGORY: culture DEFINITION: The first dynasty recorded historically, thought to have ruled from the mid-16th to mid-11th century BC (Some scholars date the Shangdynasty from the mid-18th to the late 12th century BC.). However, Shang as an archaeological term must be distinguished from Shang as a dynastic one. Earlier stages of the culture known from Anyang have been recognized at sites assigned to the Erligang Phase and, still earlier, the Erlitouphase. So far virtually no inscriptions have been found at these pre-Anyang sites; even if the date of the dynasty's founding were known it would be uncertain to what extent these archaeologically defined phases fall within the Shangperiod. Thus while the type site of the Erligang phase at Zhengzhou is generally assumed to have been a Shangcapital, some archaeologists have argued that the Erlitouphase falls in the time of the Hsiadynasty, traditional predecessor of Shang. The archaeologicalclassification of Middle Shang is represented by the remains found at Erligang (Erh-li-kang) (c 1600 BC) near Cheng-chou (Zhengzhou). The Shang replaced the Hsia (Zia) in c 1500 BC and was overthrown by the Chou in 1027 BC. The Shangdynasty belongs technically to the advanced Bronze Age -- with that metal used for tools (socketed axes, knives, etc.), weapons (halberds, spears, and arrowheads) and for the highly ornamented and artistic ritual vessels. There was a fine white pottery and coarser grey wares, wheelmade and occasionally glazed, which clearly derive from the preceding Neolithicpottery. The period's claim to rank as a civilization is supported by the size and complexity of its cities and its use of writing. Two of its capitals have been identified, at modern Cheng-chou and Anyang, both in Honan province near the middle Yellow River. Rich cemeteries provide much of the evidence, particularly the royal tombs at Anyang. Building was mainly in timber on rammed earth foundations; city walls were also of rammed earth. Burial was by inhumation in pit graves with the skeletons extended, some face down. The pictographic writing appears as occasional inscriptions on the bronzes, much more commonly on the enormous number of oracle bones. The Shang was the second of the Chinese dynasties in the Protohistoric Sandaiperiod.
SYNONYMS OR RELATED TERMS: Cheng-chou CATEGORY: site DEFINITION: A modern city in Honan (Henan) province, China, the site of a large Bronze Age city, probably a capital of the Shangdynasty (Ao) belonging to the Erligang Phase. There were also Neolithic settlements in the area. A rammed-earth hangtu foundation of palace buildings is within a walled compound, dated c1500 BC. House foundations have been uncovered within the walled enclosure. Outside the wall are workshops for bronze, ceramics, and bone crafts and tombs with bronzeritual vessels. The nearby site of Erligang gives its name to the bronze vessel style at Zengzhou. The settlement declined sharply in importance after the Erligang phase. The Shang, who continually moved their capital, left Ao, perhaps in the 13th century BC. The site, nevertheless, remained occupied; Chou (post-1050 BC) tombs have also been discovered.